Released: 2006, Battle Kommand/Southern Lord
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
Futuristic without quite reaching any sort of Aborym plateaus, this has an odd experimental flavor to it that seems to work in ways wherein a lot of “experimental” Black Metal does not. (cough-cough-Solefald-cough!)
The swirling New Agey guitar harmonies that whirl around the end of “A Seed For Suffering” have an almost Fripp-like quality that we haven’t heard since Windham Hell left the scene. Followed immediately by the colder, grimmer, and more primal “Keep Them Open,” (which is only moderately graced with the sort of odd bleeps and bloops you’ll need to adjust yourself to in order to “get” this), I can’t help but be reminded of how these same sort of jangly, dissonant effects ruined a band such as Mithras; but whereas, with Mithras it became just one “Song Of The Humpback Whale” after another, layered over unrelated compositions…here, the buzzing, whirring keyboard lines and experimental Steve Roach-esque guitar ambience actually gives the album character, being integral elements of the song itself.
Admittedly, by the fifth track or so, it begins to feel like a one-gag snuff reel as such, the whole package really does work, with repeated spins proving successively more rewarding. It’s a grower, for sure—-and you’ll probably hate it at first; but this is a decent Black Metal release--one that benefits from headphones.
While not “Blackened Prog” by any stretch, it does have a very unique sci-fi feel that does hum vaguely with progressive tendencies. It stands out among the myriad of USBM acts in much the same way that Nocturnus stood out among the endless Florida Death Metal bands back in the early 90’s. If anything, Nocturnus is perhaps this band’s closest spiritual kin: while Nachtmystium hardly ventures into any sort of death roar, the similarity in approach and the equivalent mystique brought about by the similar keyboard effects is undeniable.
I give this band about one more album to truly “find themselves,” because they’re clearly on to something here. In the meantime, I encourage the more adventurous Black Metal enthusiast to pick up this likely transitional, but mostly quality, pitch-black release.